The goal of getting strong and healthy nails is an attainable one. If you're experiencing slow nail growth or dealing with brittle, easily broken nails, learning how to grow them faster is likely important to you. As it turns out, there are things—some within our control, others not—that prevent speedy nail growth. Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, says to consider the following factors when it comes to how fast (or slow) your nails are growing: physical stress on the body (such as an illness, virus, or surgery), dietary changes, vitamin deficiencies, and certain medications are all part of the equation and could cause some sort of trauma to our nail beds, hindering quick nail growth. "It is important to remember that nails grow slowly, about three millimeters per month," says Dr. Garshick. "[It] can take up to six months for a fingernail to grow in."
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Luckily, there are easy ways to combat slow nail growth. Dr. Garshick and Dr. Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, break down how to grow nails faster.
Eat a well-balanced diet.
Both Dr. Garshick and Dr. Graf agree that eating a well-balanced diet is key to getting nails to grow faster. Dr. Garshick says that eating a healthy diet ensures your body gets the proper amount of vitamins to maintain nail growth. These vitamins include zinc, biotin, folate, and protein. To get those vitamins and build that healthy diet, Dr. Graf says to include foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Stop biting your nails.
This an obvious—and we admit, difficult—habit to break, but if you want nails to grow faster, Dr. Garshick says you have to avoid biting them. She explains that trauma to cuticles with biting and other habits like picking, cutting, pushing, and trimming leads to frequent injury and sometimes inflammation. All of these factors slow down nail growth.
Of course, it's easier said than done. The American Academy of Dermatology Association lists some ways to help you gradually wean off this habit. Some tips include applying bitter-tasting nail polish—a great option is Orly's No Bite ($12, ulta.com)—and identifying triggers that cause you to bite your fingers in the first place.
Try a biotin supplement.
Dr. Graf says taking biotin will help promote nail growth. Though limited, there are studies showing that biotin supplements promote overall nail health, so if you're interested in taking Biotin—like HUM's Killer Nails ($10, dermstore.com)—Dr. Garshick recommends seeing your doctor before taking any supplement; your primary care physician will best determine if you need any additional supplements or vitamins in your diet.
If you're noticing changes to your nails that concern you, seek professional help. Dr. Garshick says nail changes can represent different conditions, so you want to be sure you're treating it properly. For that reason, she says to go to a dermatologist if you're worried. "[They] are trained in the different nail changes and can help identify what may be the root cause," she says.